Westie is prone to Atopic Dermatitis



10% of dogs are affected by Atopic Dermatitis (and 90% of westies in France if we trust some French vet dermatologists). It’s an allergic itchy inflammation of the skin, involving allergens from environment (pollen, microscopic mites, food…). Major Allergen is Dermatophagoides Farinae, a dust mite. It means that most atopic dogs have more relapse when they live inside houses, in dusty place with lots of carpets.

How to recognize Atopic Dermatitis?

Classical form:

skin lesions range from mild erythema to severe lichenification (thickened skin) involving :

face (lips, ears, eyelids, eyes)

and/or fingers

and/or axillae, groin, perineum


                                                                                                            Classical skin areas affected by atopic dermatitis

Attenuated forms

Otitis (redness of pinna)

Or redness between fingers od under the feet

Or redness of axillae, groin, perineum

These forms usually evolve into classical forms

infected forms:

Affected skin is predisposed to infections (bacterial or fungi), in the classical skin areas.

Infected skin/ears weeps, cracks, swells, and crusts over. The smell becomes unpleasant.

Severe generalized infected forms:

the infection spreads to the whole skin, due to a major defect in the skin structure leading to a major fault in its barrier role and consequently a major excess of permeability.

The 5 major Criteria for the diagnose of Atopic Dermatitis

Only 3 of them are enough to diagnose Atopic Dermatitis at 80% (after ruling out the parasitic causes)

-Onset of signs between 6 months and 3 years

-Glucocorticoid-responsive itchiness

-redness of the front feet

-redness of the ears pinnae

-redness of the lips


When should we treat Atopic Dermatitis?

We should treat without waiting.

Allergens that trigger a flare up penetrate through the body by several ways:

                        -through the skin mostly

-through the respiratory tract

-through the intestine tract

You have to take it into account for the treatment:

-Change the food: give special food with carefully selected quality ingredients that you can identify.

Diet foods for skin allergies or food allergies or digestive problems can often help your dog.

-apply corticoid on the red skin areas (feet, ears,lips for example), every 1/3 days, until the flare up has gone. EX: Cortavance spray.

-use shampoos specially made for atopic skin (exist also as spray…) They contains ingredients that help to restore the skin barrier. Washing also helps to eliminate allergens from the skin.

Ex : Douxo Calm, Zincoseb…

-if signs of infections occurs (sweating, crusts, thickening, bad smelling), the help of the vet is urgent, because oral treatments are needed to cure the infections. These treatments should be usually extended 2 to 4 weeks after the infection resolution, depends on the deepness of it.

-If several skin areas are affected (ears, lips, feet), it is better to do a test to identify the allergens to which your westiy is sensitized. The vet can do either skin tests, either blood test (Ig E).

Food should not be tested by these ways, according to specialists, food allergy can only be ruled out or diagnosed by a food trial.


Be careful, some factors can exacerbate Atopic Dermatitis:

                 -Parasites (fleas and ticks)




                -cement dust


Preventing Atopy flare ups and avoiding exacerbating factors:

                -Quality food (premium diet food, or home made food)

                -Treat again fleas and ticks very regularly

                -Keep the ears and feet clean and well groomed

                -Shampoo of the belly and feet regularly

                -Avoid cement dust, construction zones and cement floor

                -Rinse after a sea bath


 Docteur P. Picquot